Chapter 53. The Presumption of Atheism

  1. Charles Taliaferro Professor2,
  2. Paul Draper Professor3 and
  3. Philip L. Quinn4
  1. Antony Flew Professor Emeritus

Published Online: 8 FEB 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444320152.ch53

A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Second Edition

A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Second Edition

How to Cite

Flew, A. (2010) The Presumption of Atheism, in A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Second Edition (eds C. Taliaferro, P. Draper and P. L. Quinn), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444320152.ch53

Editor Information

  1. 2

    St Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, USA

  2. 3

    Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

  3. 4

    John A O'Brien Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Reading, Berkshire, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 8 FEB 2010
  2. Published Print: 9 APR 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405163576

Online ISBN: 9781444320152



  • challenges to theistic belief;
  • presumption of atheism - not the presumptuous insolence, at the beginning of the final book of The Laws;
  • Plato accusing those who dare to disbelieve in “the existence of the gods” and salutary and inflexible interventions in human affairs;
  • distinguishing three elements of analogy, between presumption of atheism and presumption of innocence;
  • positive analogy, perhaps paradoxical consequence of the second;
  • knowledge, is of course crucially different from mere true belief;
  • Aquinas in his response to the challenge - taking conception of God as an unquestionable given, deploying his five promised proofs;
  • Joseph Butler in The Analogy of Religion: Natural and Revealed - “ten thousand instances of design cannot but prove a Designer”;
  • crucial distinction between two senses of the word “experience” and its semantic associates


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Works cited

  • Additional recommendations by editors